Your Apprenticeship Guide

This guide is for employers to help and support the Apprenticeship journey. It outlines the benefits as well as the support available to employers throughout the Apprenticeship. It explains the essentials and provides links to detailed information where this may be required – not least helping you to select a training provider who can work with you through all aspects of an Apprenticeship.
This was produced as part of the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme, which was commissioned and funded by The Education and Training Foundation.

Why take on an Apprentice?

An apprentice can be a valuable addition to your organisation. Whilst initially they might have a mixed range of skills they can bring a fresh outlook and new ideas. They also offer the possibility for succession planning and an opportunity for an organisation to develop an employee from scratch into their methods of operation allowing an organisation to invest in useful skills. Providing an Apprenticeship opportunity also contributes towards an organisation’s corporate and social responsibility.

What can you offer?

Can you offer an Apprenticeship opportunity to a young person?

If you have employed apprentices before then you will know what is involved and what a valuable contribution an apprentice can make to your organisation. If you are new to Apprenticeships your training provider will provide you with all the support and guidance that you need. They will also explain about the age grant of up to £1500 which might be available to you if you are a small employer. Most importantly they have walked this path hundreds of times before and so have a wealth of experience with which to guide and support you.

You need to consider the type of person that your organisation is looking to recruit, their personal characteristics and the level of experience that you require.

Although some apprentices will come straight from school or college with little or no work experience, many will be looking for an Apprenticeship after having spent some time in the workplace. Funding is available for all young people up to and including those aged 23 and sometimes older.

Like any new employee, in the first few weeks they will require support and supervision but over time they will be able to work more independently. Your organisation, whatever the size, needs to be able to offer them that support. Your chosen training provider will help you develop the skills needed to support apprentices.

Apprenticeships are a valuable tool for recruiting young people and in succession planning for your organisation. Here are some experiences of employers that have recruited apprentices.


Apprenticeships for existing employees

Apprenticeships are also available to help you develop existing employees. Whether you are a levy payer or an SME you can use apprenticeships to develop and enhance the skills of any employee of any age. Employees can even do apprenticeships at a lower level than existing qualifications that they might already have, providing it is developing new skills for them required by the business.

What can you offer?

What Apprenticeship do you think that you can offer?

You will obviously know your organisation, what it does and so have a good idea of the sort of Apprenticeship that you wish to offer. However, there are hundreds of different types of Apprenticeships available, known as Apprenticeship frameworks, designed to ensure that the Apprenticeship exactly suits your organisational requirements. Your chosen training provider can also further tailor the framework to ensure that your apprentice is covering the areas that you need them to learn.

There are different levels of Apprenticeship to suit the experience and prior qualifications that employers require .They are available at Intermediate, Advanced and Higher (degree) level, covering more than 170 industries and 1500 job roles:

  • Intermediate Level Apprenticeship (Level 2) – equivalent to five A*–C GCSEs
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeship (Level 3) – equivalent to two A Levels
  • Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4 and above) – equivalent to degree level and above.



Apprenticeships are funded by the government in two ways depending on the size of employer. Larger employers (with an annual payroll of more than £3 million) pay the Apprenticeship Levy which they can then use to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment.

All other employers, including levy payers that have used up all of their “levy pot”, have their apprenticeship training funded through the “co-investment model”. This funding formula requires the employer to pay 5% of the training costs directly to their chosen training provider and the government pays the remaining 95%. The government have also determined the maximum “cap” that training providers can charge for an apprenticeship and these are clearly displayed on the National Apprenticeship Service website NAS Find an apprenticeship



Apprenticeships have undergone root and branch reforms which were introduced in May 2017. Part of the reforms is in the funding and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy mentioned earlier. There has also been a fundamental reform in how apprenticeships are delivered and assessed with the introduction of Apprenticeship Standards to replace the existing Apprenticeship frameworks. One of the main differences is that the apprenticeship standards have been designed by employers in order to ensure that the knowledge, skills and competence gained exactly match the job role. Apprenticeship Standards are assessed at the end of the apprenticeship by an independent organsisation that will conduct an End Point Assessment, or EPA, of the apprentice (a bit like a final exam) to ensure that they have reached the necessary standard to be awarded the Apprenticeship. Apprenticeship Frameworks, which are assessed throughout the apprenticeship by the training provider that delivers the training, will gradually be replaced by the introduction of new Standards as they are developed and approved.

One opportunity introduced under the reforms is that anyone can be an apprentice, regardless of age and whether new to a role or an existing member of staff. Employers can therefore provide apprenticeship opportunities for both young people that they are recruiting to invigorate their work force and also to existing employees wishing to develop or learn new skills relevant to their existing or new roles.

It is now possible to start an apprenticeship at a lower level than qualifications already help, provided that it is in a new learning area to existing higher qualifications and relevant to your job role. This means, for example, that graduates can now re-train using apprenticeships in new vocational areas.

There is also a new incentive of £1,000 to encourage employers to recruit 16 to 18 year olds and 19 to 24 year olds with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. If you have fewer than 50 employees you will also be exempt the 10% co-investment contribution for these learners.

Training Providers

Choose a Training Provider

Once you have decided which Apprenticeship that you wish to offer it is time to choose your training provider. There are many different training providers available but they broadly fall into two categories – further education colleges and private training providers. They both offer the same government funded Apprenticeships and it is not a question of choosing the “type” of training provider, rather choosing the training provider that provides an Apprenticeship that matches your requirements.

You can use the ALPHI Apprenticeship Providers tool to identify the training providers in your area that offer the Apprenticeship type that you want. Simply use the drop down menu to select your area and the occupational area that you think you would like to offer. The tool will then identify all of the providers that offer that Apprenticeship area with links to their websites. You can then take a look at the website, email or call them for a chat.

You can also find out information about training providers in your area and on their success rates in delivering Apprenticeships

Different providers will deliver the same Apprenticeship in different ways. Some will offer day or block release (the apprentice goes off your site for a day a week or a week at a time to do classroom based learning) with others providing all training at your premises and only occasionally requiring the apprentice to train off site. You can decide which best suits your way of working.

It is entirely up to you which training provider that you choose. What is important is that you feel comfortable with your choice and that you have a rapport with the training provider staff that you meet. You are going to work closely with them over the coming years and so you need to be able to have a good working relationship with them.

Once you have selected your training provider then they will support you through the rest of the Apprenticeship process. They will also be responsible for dealing with any administration around the Apprenticeship, including obtaining the government funding to pay for your apprentice’s training, so that you can get on with your day job!


Checks that will be carried out, including ensuring a safe and secure working environment

One thing which is fundamental to an Apprenticeship is that the apprentice must have a safe and secure working environment. Your training provider will come and help you to assess the workplace to ensure that it is appropriate. The requirements are no more onerous than the legal requirements for any other employee. They will advise you how to carry out a Health & Safety assessment and a wider risk assessment.

Your training provider will also talk to you about the structure of the job that the apprentice will be doing and from this you can decide between you what elements of the Apprenticeship framework that you wish the apprentice to cover.

The employment laws relating to equality and diversity are equally as applicable to the recruitment and employment of apprentices as they are to any other employee. If you need more information about these please ask your training provider.

Recruitment & Selection

If you have not already identified your apprentice from internal staff or your own recruitment your training provider will help you with the whole process of recruitment & selection of your apprentice.

Designing a job description and person specification

Your training provider will help you put together a job description (of the Apprenticeship role) and person specification (describing the type of person that you are looking for). They will have standard templates that can be used.

Advertising, screening & short listing candidates

Your training provider will advertise the Apprenticeship Vacancy on the NAS Recruit an apprentice website in order to attract a wide variety of candidates. They will carry out an initial screening of applicants and then present you with a short list of the most suitable for you to interview.

Tips to attract the very best apprentice

Prepare a job description that accurately defines the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for

Ensure that the job description includes a piece of narrative about your organisation – small and intimate, large with opportunities to progress, young & vibrant, well established & secure

Sell the benefits of working for your organisation – access to facilities, holiday, perks and benefits

Offer a competitive rate of pay – whilst you must offer at least the minimum apprentice wage in the first year consider offering more to create a sense of mutual respect.

All Apprenticeships must be advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website (AV) but ask your provider about other advertising options

Selecting the right apprentice

You will want to interview the candidates that your training provider has selected for you. If you require help with this process your training provider will help as much as you wish them to but you may want to review these Interview Hints and Tips

Making an offer

Your training provider may have a standard contract of employment for apprentices that you can use. They will advise you of the terms and conditions that are standard for apprentices within your industry sector & also offer advice on the salary levels that apprentices are currently earning. There is an apprentice minimum wage but it you want to develop a relationship with your apprentice that fosters commitment from both sides it is recommended that you try to pay more than this.

You might wish to recruit an apprentice or a number of apprentices by using an assessment centre to allow you to observe potential apprentices undertaking various exercises, possibly  prepare and deliver a presentation, working in a team,  as well as conduct a one to one interview.

Starting your Apprentice

When your apprentice starts their Apprenticeship they will need a period of induction to introduce them to the workplace, processes, procedures and workplace facilities. Your training provider will help you put together a comprehensive induction programme but it needs to:

  • Ensure that the apprentice knows what to do in case of emergencies
  • Gives the apprentice a tour of the site to show them where they are working and where they will find workplace facilities, other departments that they will be working with and to allow them to orientate themselves
  • Introduce them to their supervisor and colleagues
  • Ensures that they are trained in all aspects of health and safety and workplace procedures
  • Explains to them the tasks, processes and wider role that they will be expected to fulfil.

They will also need to be assigned a mentor for the duration of their Apprenticeship. This will usually be their work place supervisor. Your training provider will provide your chosen staff member with the necessary training and guidance to carry out this role as required.


Supporting your apprentice throughout their Apprenticeship

Your training provider will assign your apprentice with one of their work place trainer /assessors. They will be your first point of contact throughout the Apprenticeship. They will visit your apprentice regularly to ensure that they are progressing as expected and to set them goals for the coming weeks. If your apprentice is having work based (rather than classroom based) training then the trainer /assessor will probably be responsible for delivering this.

One thing that the assessor will do is to sit down with you, the apprentice and their mentor to develop a training plan for your apprentice (known as an Individual Learning Plan or ILP). This will typically be broken down into three month periods and will identify what experience and training you need the apprentice to gain in each period. The idea is to tailor their development to your business requirements while ensuring that the apprentice gain the experience they need to achieve their Apprenticeship. This plan can be flexible to accommodate your organisational requirements – providing your apprentice is gaining the required experience.

What if..?

You cannot employ an apprentice?

If you are unable to employ an apprentice, perhaps you have a recruitment freeze or you are concerned about what is involved, you can offer an Apprenticeship opportunity to a young person on an agency basis through an Apprenticeship Training Agency (ATA). Like an employment agency for apprentices an ATA will employ the apprentice and can then place them on a long term assignment with you. Ask your preferred Training Provider if they work with an ATA .


You can offer a Traineeship

Traineeships offer a valuable opportunity for young people to access Apprenticeships. They allow the young person and the employer to assess whether they are suited to each other, providing the young person with valuable work experience and the employer with an extended opportunity to assess the young person’s potential to start an Apprenticeship.

Traineeships unlock the great potential of young people and prepare them for their future careers by helping them to become ‘work ready’.

Traineeships provide the essential work preparation training, maths and English and work experience needed to get an Apprenticeship or other job.

Traineeships are delivered by training providers and funded by the government, with employers providing the valuable work experience placement and interview as part of the programme.

Find out more at the Traineeship website or read about the experiences of employers who have offered Traineeship opportunities in our case studies

Useful Links


  • 1 The Challenge Enterprise Centre
    Sharps Close, Portsmouth PO3 5RJ